Social media dos and don’ts

by | Jan 8, 2018

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Social media users are currently spending just over 2 hours each day on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. About 80% of that time happens on mobile. For many, use of LinkedIn is more likely to be once or twice a week, rather than daily.

But that’s an ‘average’ statistic, and it doesn’t include the amount of time we use to create content to share on social media.

I probably spend more time than that on social media; but it’s a large part of what I do – for my own business, and for clients. If you have a plan, you can nail social media in ten minutes a day.

The time I spend on social media is usually very focused, but I know how easy it is to get distracted and also to feel overwhelmed with information overload.

Unfortunately, there is no magic social media rule book to follow. Social media just changes too quickly, plus the answer to what will work, and what won’t work on social media is always “it depends”.

It depends on your business goals, your target audience, your products and services. And it depends on how much resource you have available. Social media isn’t expensive to use, but it also isn’t free. Time is money.

While there is no rule book, from my experience with social media there are some dos and don’ts. We might consider most of them to be common sense, but there seems to be something about a screen that makes some people forget that they’re posting publicly, and that it’s social; it’s about talking to real people, in real-time.

Mistakes of course do happen, but sometimes those mistakes could be avoided.

Start with a social media policy.

Even if you don’t work for a large organisation it’s important to consider how you want to come across on social media. Training and development is also important.

Virgin, usually excellent at social media customer service, made a huge mistake early January 2018. Take a look, here.


You cannot expect to use every social media platform available; and you don’t need to, because your target audiences will not be active on every social media platform. Do some research, identify what will work best for you and your business and focus on the platform/s that are right for you.

Be ready to do business online

Before you start sharing any content on social media, you need to set up your profiles correctly.

When you post content online you’re inviting people to check out your profile, so make sure you have a good profile photo, a real username, a personalised or vanity URL. Use keywords in your profile to let people know what you do and brand your page. Your social media profiles are living documents online, so keep them fresh and updated. You only get one chance to make a good first impression.

Pay attention to details

Attention to detail on social media is really important. Don’t share content you haven’t read. Double check links work. Check your spelling. When you’re using social media for business, don’t use text speak. Your use of emojis will be part of your own social media policy and tone of voice.

Use hashtags wisely

Hashtags are great for social media. For Twitter and Instagram primarily. They’re coming back into play on LinkedIn, and are often used for campaigns on Facebook. They’re clickable, they help you find content and conversations.

But they shouldn’t be overused. Check out this video to see why:

It’s useful to do some research before you use hashtags and is a great tool for this.

The perils of user-generated content

It might also seem like a great idea to get customers involved with your social media content. But that doesn’t always work out.

McDonalds asked their audience for stories, and Waitrose asked their audience to complete the sentence “I shop at Waitrose because….” In 2017 Walkers Crisps and the National Lottery ran campaigns that didn’t quite work out. Click on the links to see what went wrong! Is all PR good PR? Well Poundland are soon to find out as their ‘successful’ Christmas 2017 Twitter campaign received over 80 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority.


Ensure you are set up for listening to what is being said about you and your business. I use columns in Hootsuite for username mentions and keyword mentions. I have the most important notifications I might need go to my phone for when I’m away from my desk. I also make sure I’m keeping a close eye on competitor activity… their fail could be my opportunity 🙂

When scheduling goes wrong

It’s good time management to schedule evergreen content, but don’t schedule everything. Stay in the real-world, and when situations arise (eg natural disasters, terrorism, world events, celebrity deaths), then it can be appropriate to check scheduled content, remove it and to go quiet for a while.

Tesco had to apologise when a scheduled Tweet, “It’s time for us to hit the hay!” was posted during the horse meat scandal.

More top tips…

  • Don’t just broadcast. Make engagement with your audience your top priority.
  • Don’t buy followers/likes. Focus on quality, not quantity.
  • Don’t forget to tell people you’re on social media! Add icons/details/links to your website, your email signature, your business card and any other marketing material.
  • Do check your privacy settings. Know what personal information you are sharing on social media, and to whom.


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